Alisha struts her stuff!
Alisha shot up in a perfect vertical lift and within a few seconds, disappeared from view. Logan knew she’d go all the way to five thousand. It didn’t matter if they couldn’t see her. To pass the test, the troops would be required to go to five thousand feet, so, she’d do it as well.
“She just hit five,” Gunny announced as he watched on radar.
That was damned fast! Logan had figured she wouldn’t hit it for another five minutes. No wonder she had disappeared by the time the smoke had dispersed during the Broadtown battle. She must have already been hovering at five.
Her descent looked to be a free fall until she hit three hundred feet. Then she slowed it down, pulled a rifle from her pack and aimed at the targets and mock fired, then returned the rifle to position and landed precisely on the same two-foot circle she had taken off from.
“She wanted to use live ammo in her rifle,” the general chuckled. “One lesson and she’s ready to take it on.”
“You were right not to let her. It’s better to keep the troops focused on her flying.”
They watched as she carried her catcher over to a twenty-foot wind block and placed it on the windless side. A second wind blocker was set up a hundred yards away.
Logan knew she had re-created the Broadtown compound, except made the distance between the walls about fifteen feet longer. Given that he was going to have to fly over that damned wall, he was grateful for the extra distance. This maneuver definitely favored the lighter flyer.
For Alisha the extra distance made the maneuver so easy that she had to force herself to remain low enough that her slats even touched the wall. Logan suspected he’d need those slats to clear the last two feet.
After clearing the wall, she halted her forward movement and snapped straight up until she came to one thousand feet. From there she tracked a perfect perpendicular line crosswind, then soared downwind, stopped again and performed the third leg to a perfect square. When she reached the final upwind leg, the troops were utterly still. They all knew it was impossible to fly upwind, but they all knew she could do it. Now they were going to find out how.
The crowd murmured as her catcher collapsed. To a Ryder, a collapsed catcher meant death. Alisha leaned forward until the tips of her slats pressed against her chest. She rode upwind into the hundred-mile wind on her slats, with her collapsed catcher streaming behind her. A split second before she reached the edge of her target, she re-engaged her catcher and, precisely on the corner, she lifted back up to a hundred feet and set off diagonally into the square, touching down on each numbered circle in its order. To accomplish this without going outside the square required some incredibly tight one-eighties, but she made them look deceptively easy. As she hopped from circle eight to nine, she released her harness and flew the last eight feet on momentum, landing precisely on the mark with her rifle magically in her hand ready to fire.
Retrieving her catcher, she performed a remarkably fast takeoff. This time, instead of soaring straight up, she held at a low altitude, tracking the same black line. When she reached the upwind side, she climbed to a thousand feet and released her catcher.
There was a collective gasp by the troop. Logan understood their horror. To a flyer, an accidental harness release at a thousand feet was certain death. Yet she made it seem no stranger than her prior head-wind dive, except this time she went far beyond the square’s boundaries.
There was a collective sigh of relief as she touched down and held her balance. Logan shook his head as he realized she had that damned rifle in her hand, pretending to shoot the various targets on her path. As she ended the maneuver, she leaned on the slats, turning her direction back to the training area. She still had enough momentum to pull to a stop before the general and gave him a snappy salute.
Logan smiled, although he felt a little ill. She made it look like child’s play, but he doubted he would find anything playful about learning these maneuvers. He noticed the troops were quiet as well. He knew exactly how they felt. Watching Alisha fly was a humbling experience.
About the Author
Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.
OTHER BOOKS BY LIZA O’CONNOR
Sci-Fi Soap Opera with humor, romance, and science
Artificial Intelligence Series
The SkyRyders Series
Scavenger Falters-releasing Dec 30th 2016
Scavenger Vanishes-coming 2017